More of the Same: Confusion Over What Constitutes Art
Only the art world could launch an awards ceremony recognizing professional excellence that left half the community wondering whether the gala itself was actually a work of art. Artist Rob Pruitt's First Ever Annual Art Awards at the Guggenheim achieved this end earlier in the year: Even art critic and award recipient Jerry Saltz claimed he wasn't sure if the event was real. Make no mistake: this marks a serious identity crisis in the field, not a fine example of experimentation and innovation. The distinction between product and promotion needs to be clearer or the profession will flounder.
Burgeoning Trend! Frame Art is back!
Challenging the limitations of painting is as old as the last half-century, but it's never too late for a revival! This year's highlights include Barnaby Furnas's new watercolors that render frames as part of the composition, the hand-carved frames and landscapes of Zach Harris, and Dianna Molzan's stretched fabric that exposes the de facto frame of the stretcher [her "Portal for Howard Cosell" is pictured above]. Three's a trend!
Hot Trend! Reproduction Art
I can't imagine another year in which we would see more art about the politics of reproduction than this one. Thanks in particular to The Kitchen, The Venice Biennale, and The Rubell Collection for making 2009 so great for the genre's pioneering artists Kelley Walker and Wade Guyton. Both make fabulous work and deserve the attention, but I can't help but wonder if I need to see them in quite so many exhibitions.
Hot Trend Part Two! Concept is King
When is it going to be ok to appreciate work purely for its virtuosity in craft again? I don't mind the endless visual puzzles a viewer has to decode, but after a while the process gets a little tedious. I'm tired of wondering if there's enough intellectual investment in a work of art just because it looks good.
Hot Trend Part Three! Apartment Shows
Apartment shows will continue to be popular, so long as the economy sucks. We may be in this one for the long haul.
So Old It's Not Even News: Increased Importance of the International Art Scene
Among art insiders the increased importance of the international art scene is old news, but I'd argue it's taken on a new life this year regardless. The fall of the art market and a new hunger for sales places a greater focus on other markets. In this climate, who cares where the money comes from so long as it can be collected?
Hopeful Trend! Intelligent Thought on the Internet!
"The banality of the internet is something to be admired," writes artist Paul B. Davis in the press release for his show at London's Seventeen Gallery earlier this year, "but after 15 years of it, I have begun to occasionally ask a question or two." I'm a fan of that. Artist and blogger Tom Moody takes a similar stance, constantly interrogating and interpreting web ephemera and studio practices. I read the blog regularly for this reason. I also appreciate the thoughts of Sally McKay, who just last week called for a "degree of skepticism" when discussing the cultural claims of imaging technologies. She was talking about a scan that showed signs of brain activity in a dead salmon when clearly there were none, but noted the importance of applying that kind of criticality to the art as well. I couldn't agree more.
Dying Trend? Assemblage. Crap on Crap
Assemblage art may never die, but its days filling all of New York's contemporary galleries are certainly numbered. This year, painting on humble materials has become more fashionable, probably because it offers a little more distinction from last year's crap-i-found-on-the-street trend. I anticipate another year painting on garbage before the art world fully tires of that technique.